April 18, 2006
In the third of 10 provincial association profiles, Baseball Canada speaks with Saskatchewan Baseball President Ken Hamilton about the upcoming 2006 season.
BASEBALL CANADA (BCAN) – In no particular order, what five events or initiatives are you looking forward to the most as you are in the midst of kicking off the 2006 baseball season?
1. Western Canada Championships Hat Trick
KEN HAMILTON (KH) – 1. We’re going to be hosting three Western Canada Baseball Championships this summer in Saskatchewan. The first will be the Western Canada AAA Midget Championships, which will be held in Regina from August 24 to 28. The Second will be the Western Canada AA Senior Championship in Saskatoon from August 17 to 21 and the third will be the Western Canada AA Minor Championship (Pee-Wee, Bantam, Midget), which will take place in Yorkton from August 17 to the 21.
BCAN – Obviously it has to be exciting to have three of the Western Canada Championships in Saskatchewan. What kinds of challenges arise from hosting that many events of such magnitude and how do you see overcoming those hurdles?
KH – It’s a big thing for us to have that many tournaments going on in one summer. It’s a big challenge for our volunteer base because we are stretched fairly thin as a small province. However, if you look at Yorkton, it has been a real hotbed for baseball in Saskatchewan. They’ve got great facilities and great support from the city. They are also hosting the championship for the second year in a row now. They did a fantastic job last year and we expect them to be fine again this year.
We also expect to see the same from the other two cities. Regina and Saskatoon are both cities with good facilities and a lot of backing from their communities. Thanks to that, despite being a small province, the volunteer base we do have is very strong and should be able to handle this workload. We’ve hosted big events in the past so I don’t see why we can do this without too much strain.
2 & 3. Rally Cap Program & Winterball
KH – This is the second year now that we’ve been involved in the Rally Cap program. This year, it’s being run in conjunction with the Mosquito division of the Saskatoon Baseball Council. We don’t have any numbers yet, but it does sound like the volunteers and everybody involved are extremely enthusiastic about it, which is what you want to hear. We’re really looking forward to seeing the numbers when they’re available.
KH – Last year we had a number of Winterball Clinics, which were focused on Saskatoon and the northern part of the province. They went over extremely well and exceeded our expectations, so Baseball Canada gave us some extra kits, which was a great thing for us.
The feedback we’re getting from the schools is extremely positive. As a result, this year we have already booked over 40 clinics, mainly focusing in the southern part of the province (Regina and South).
We’re just like all of the other baseball organizations in Canada. We need our grassroots system to be strong and we really believe that Winterball is a great program for young people to develop an interest in the sport, start playing the game and have fun at the same time.
See http://www.baseball.ca/eng_doc.cfm?DocID=212&Related=13 for more information about Baseball Canada’s Rally Cap Program.
See http://www.baseball.ca/eng_doc.cfm?DocID=69&Related=13 to learn more about Baseball Canada’s Winterball Program.
4. North American Indigenous Games
KH – As you know, in our province here in Saskatchewan we have a very high number of aboriginal people, and we’ve been trying for a number of years to get more participation in that sector. This year, the North American Indigenous Games are being held in Denver, Colorado from July 2nd to the 9th.
They’ve got tournaments for baseball in a number of age categories including Boys 13 & 14, boys 14 & 15, boys 17 to 19, and an over 20 age group.
Consequently, Saskatchewan Baseball has been working very closely with the North American Indigenous Games Committee in the province, helping with coaching clinics, player selection and so on. We think it’s going well and hopefully we’ll have some pretty competitive teams coming out of Saskatchewan.
BCAN – Is Saskatchewan trying to field a team for each and every one of those age categories?
KH – I think they would like to, but I’m not sure they’ll be able to. There may not be enough players. Greg Brons, our technical director here at Saskatchewan Baseball has been very active in trying to get it off the ground. Thus far we’ve gotten good support from the North American Indigenous Games Committee.
We’ll get at least one team down there for sure. I’m thinking at this point that it will be in the 15 to 16-year-old category.
BCAN – What’s the process for training, recruiting and selecting potential players and/or coaches for Saskatchewan’s representation at the North American Indigenous Games?
KH – First we set up a coaching clinic, which is schedule for Saturday, May 6 in Saskatoon. Secondly, we’ll have a mission staff meeting on May 7 at the same hotel.
Greg has also been involved with player camps and player selection, so we’ve got a fair level of involvement. The Aboriginal Community in Saskatchewan is a very large one with a lot of young people, so we’d like to get them playing ball.
See http://www.teamsask.fsin.com/ for more information about Team Saskatchewan and the North American Indigenous Games
5. Girls Baseball
KH – Because of our size as a province, we’ve had some problems fielding teams for the girls’ programs and have had difficulty dealing with the cost of sending them long distances or out of province, so this year we’ve changed our focus a little bit.
Prior to this year we were allowing girls who were fastball players to simply come to try out camps where we would form our provincial baseball team. Basically this year we’ve gone to the same format that’s being applied to boys’ baseball. The girls will have to register with Saskatchewan Baseball. If we have enough players for more than one team then we would hold a provincial play-off to determine a provincial team.
In the past we’d simply host the try-out camps and outside of that we don’t think that there was enough awareness about girls baseball. That being said, last year we hosted the pee-wee championships in Estevan and from that, some of the parents became more interested and more active in the sport. We’re now moving in a direction where the girls program has more exposure and that’s what we need. Once the girls start playing, they find out they love to play baseball. We just have to get them into the game.
Want to learn more about Saskatchewan Baseball? Visit their website at www.saskbaseball.ca.
That wraps up this week's edition of Play Ball 2006! Come back next week as Baseball Canada sits down with Baseball Manitoba’s Ken Sharpe.
Schedule:April 24: Play Ball 2006! Manitoba Baseball AssociationMay 1: Play Ball 2006! Baseball OntarioMay 8: Play Ball 2006! Baseball QuébecMay 15: Play Ball 2006! Baseball New BrunswickMay 22: Play Ball 2006! Baseball Nova ScotiaMay 29: Play Ball 2006! P.E.I. Amateur Baseball AssociationJune 5: Play Ball 2006! Baseball Newfoundland